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Citroen C3 Pluriel

Citroen

Review

Citroen has come up with the answer. The Pluriel is a car that you would have thought was fine as a concept but would never make it into production but it is a vehicle that is hatchback, convertible, pickup and semi-topless all in one.

It is launched at a time when small convertibles are all the rage, with the Ford StreetKa, Daihatsu Copen, Volkswagen Beetle, new Vauxhall roadster and MINI convertible either on the streets or on the horizon.

Citroen's PR people claim the new car is as cool as a StreetKa, as versatile as a Vauxhall Meriva, has almost double the boot space of a MINI and is the price of a standard Vauxhall Astra.

The C3 Pluriel, as its name suggests, is a C3, which means it performs most of the functions of the successful supermini, Citroen's fastest-selling car to date. However, it has been designed for occasional roof down motoring, either completely topless, or with its removable roof arches in place.

But Citroen claims much better security than a traditional convertible, with metal reinforcements spanning the multi-layered roof so that even if someone cuts through the plastic, it would be almost impossible to get into the car through the top.

There is currently no other car on the market that does everything the Pluriel does. It can be used as a three-door supermini 365 days a year. The electric folding roof can be used as a giant sunroof with eight pre-set positions, and all four electric windows can be lowered.

Then the roof and rear window can be pivoted and stowed in a recessed area of the boot. It is then up to the driver whether the guarantee of dry weather is strong enough to leave the removable roof arches at home because the roof cannot be put in place without them. With the roof down, the rear seats can also be folded, giving the Pluriel the carrying capacity of a very small pickup truck.

The Pluriel is an unknown quantity for Citroen, but the company believes it is unlikely to harm existing C3 sales, nor will it hurt the forthcoming smaller C2. It will also be an interesting test case for fleets which might operate a 'no convertibles' policy.

Behind the wheel

THE Pluriel is an eye-catching vehicle roof up or down, with sculpted clear-lens headlamps at the front and chrome Citroen lettering across the base of the rear window.

Available in a range of vivid colours, all Pluriels have alloy wheels. Inside, the car is similar to the five-door C3.

The full roof removal procedure probably takes about a minute, but the more you try it, the easier it becomes.

Two petrol engines are available, with either a 74bhp 1.4-litre and a 16-valve 109bhp 1.6-litre mated to the SensoDrive paddle-shift sequential manual gearbox. On the move, scuttle-shake is virtually non-existent and there are few tell-tale rattles that betray its chopped top.

The 1.4-litre engine needs to be worked hard to perform on the open road and this becomes wearing after a short while.

It is better to choose the 1.6-litre, priced at £13,595 on-the-road, which also comes with a £900 'automatic pack' option, including automatic headlamps and wipers, automatic climate control, electric heated door mirrors, heat reflecting windscreen and air-conditioned glove compartment. Although it's a little more expensive than the 1.4-litre and is significantly more powerful, it offers lower carbon dioxide emissions and better fuel consumption.

Driving verdict

CITROEN remembers how to build fun cars and the C3 Pluriel has all the right ingredients to make it successful. It looks great, is pleasant to drive and offers a bargain four-seater convertible with few of the traditional rag-top compromises.

Citroen C3 Pluriel
Model 1.4 1.6i 16v
Engine (cc): 1,360 1,587
Max power (bhp/rpm): 74/5,400 109/5,750
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 86/3,300 108/4,000
Max speed (mph): 101 117
0-62mph (secs): 13.9 12.6
Fuel consumption (mpg): 41.5 42.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 163 157
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 47/10.3
Transmission: 5-sp man/5-sp sequential 1.6i
Service intervals (miles): 20,000
On sale: Now
Prices (est): £11,995 - £13,595

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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